Tag Archives: Controversial

Why Your Memories Could All Be False

Memories Image courtesy of samuiblue at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Have you ever heard of the phenomenon of confirmation bias? It’s where you believe said idea or concept and when encountering new information you remember and interpret it so that agrees with that original idea. Wikipedia defines it as:

Confirmation bias, also called myside bias, is the tendency to search for, interpret, or prioritize information in a way that confirms one’s beliefs or hypotheses. It is a type of cognitive bias and a systematic error of inductive reasoning. People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs. People also tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing position.”

I have usually seen this most prominently in regards to politics. We have an idea of what we believe in (a stance if you will) and when we listen to the news or other people’s take on an issue we interpret this information to confirm why we believe what we do.

Dr. Elizabeth Loftus takes this concept a step further in her research of memories and in particular, false memories. She has found that people will not only confirm an existing memory or belief, but that they will subconsciously create a memory or belief if coached to do so.

Read the really interesting interview Vice.com does with her here.